CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK; Holloway is ready to do battle

The IAA has found a stout defender of the industry as a new chief.

The IAA has found a stout defender of the industry as a new chief.

Keith Holloway, the incoming president of the International Advertising

Association, promises to be a formidable champion for the industry

against what are being seen as increasingly hostile attacks by TV and


Emotional outbursts by a few over-sensitive creatives given a hard time

by the tabloids are one thing. But their paranoia becomes harder to

dismiss when Holloway, Grand Metropolitan’s commercial director, shows

his support.

Holloway’s belief that the media is running a sustained campaign of

animosity towards advertising can’t be brushed aside lightly. An

advertiser of vast experience, he commands respect across the industry

as a client whose criticism of agencies has been controversial but never

deliberately destructive.

‘Keith is one of the best clients I’ve known,’ says Bill Thompson, a

founding partner of Waldron Allen Henry and Thompson, who worked with

Holloway on Webster’s Yorkshire Bitter and the national launch of

Ruddles beer.

‘He was one of the few who could be critical of my work, yet end up

winning me over.’

Chris Powell, a former president of the Institute of Practitioners in

Advertising, believes the industry owes Holloway a huge debt of

gratitude. He played a considerable part in engineering the growing

rapprochement between the IPA and the Incorporated Society of British


So why does such a steadfast supporter of the advertising industry

believe it is getting such a rotten deal from the British media?

Holloway isn’t sure. But he believes it’s significant that no similar

attacks are mounted by media in the US, where the ad industry enjoys a

status born of maturity.

Holloway’s worry is that it may be symptomatic of the burgeoning threats

posed by well-organised narrow-interest groups for whom advertising is

an obvious lightning conductor.

No single pressure group can inflict great damage on the industry but

their cumulative effect is potentially serious, he warns. ‘If we’re not

very careful, freedom of speech faces death by a thousand cuts.’